Heat ban Meyers Leonard 'indefinitely' after anti-Semitic slur: 'We will not tolerate hateful language'
The Miami Heat announced on Tuesday that Meyers Leonard is banned from the team "indefinitely" after video surfaced of the backup center uttering an anti-Semitic slur on a Twitch stream.
The video surfaced Tuesday afternoon, showing Leonard talking while engaged in first-person shooter "Call of Duty." Leonard said the slur while talking with another player.
Warning: The video below contains graphic language and a racial slur.
Meyers Leonard says racial slurs while playing CoD pic.twitter.com/WHwUnbV0pR
— Main Team (@MainTeamSports) March 9, 2021
"F***ing cowards," Leonard said. "Don't f***ing snipe at me you k*** bitch."
The Heat acknowledged that it was aware of the video before releasing a statement Tuesday night condemning Leonard and announcing his ban.
Heat: 'We will not tolerate hateful language'
"The Miami Heat vehemently condemns the use of any form of hate speech," the statement reads. "The words used by Meyers Leonard were wrong and we will not tolerate hateful language from anyone associated with our franchise. To hear it from a Miami Heat player is especially disappointing and hurtful to all those who work here, as well as the larger South Florida, Miami Heat and NBA communities.
"Meyers Leonard will be away from the team indefinitely. The Miami Heat will cooperate with the NBA while it conducts its investigation."
Twitch also bans Leonard
Twitch, an online gaming and streaming platform, also banned Leonard.
"We do not allow the use of hateful slurs on Twitch," a company statement reads, per Jacob Wolf of Dot Esports. "The safety of our community is our top priority, and per our guidelines we reserve the right to suspend any account for conduct that we determine to be inappropriate, harmful or puts our community at risk."
Leonard says he didn't know origin of slur
Leonard issued an apology Tuesday afternoon and claimed that he didn't know what the slur meant when he said it.
"I am deeply sorry for using an anti-Semitic slur during a livestream yesterday," Leonard wrote. "While I didn't know what the word meant at the time, my ignorance about its history and how offensive it is to the Jewish community is absolutely not an excuse and I was just wrong."
Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard releases statement apologizing for saying anti-Semitic slur on a livestream: pic.twitter.com/AOi7ZE6nCy
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 10, 2021
NBA reviewing incident
NBA spokesman Mike Bass said earlier Tuesday the league is reviewing the video in a statement.
"We just became aware of the video and are in the process of gathering more information," Bass said, per The Athletic's Shams Charania. "The NBA unequivocally condemns all forms of hate speech.”
Leonard, a ninth-year NBA veteran, is playing his second season in Miami after seven seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers. After starting 49 games last season, Leonard has been hampered by a shoulder injury this season and played in just three games. He had season-ending surgery on his shoulder in February.
Leonard is in the first year of a two-year contract in Miami. The Heat hold an option on next season, which would pay Leonard $10.1 million.
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